Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vacation Marketing Inspires Seeds for New Stories

I'd been looking forward to revisiting Oregon farmers' markets and farms ever since The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook came out in May. So, last week, I packed my bags and drove south to Corvallis, Oregon for a book marketing vacation.

Time away from the usual routine is always fun because you never know what you may find. First, I stopped at St. Helens Bookshop in Saint Helens where I told the store worker about my book and dropped off some of my book postcards. When I got to Corvallis, I stopped at The First Alternative Co-op, The Book Bin and Grass Roots Bookstore before stopping at Gathering Together Farm Store and then visiting the Corvallis farmers' market.

I set up a book event at Grass Roots Bookstore so I'll be back at Grass Roots on October 16 at 3pm. It's the same day as my cooking demo scheduled for The Portland Farmers' Market, so I'll be rushing from one event to another, with no time to shop at either Saturday market. It's a tough choice to give up market strolling and picture taking and come home with nothing but tired feet from standing and a cramped hand from book signing. Don't get me wrong, I love to sell books and schmooze, just not on the best market day of the week.

Know the value your book adds to peoples' lives. Focus on benefits it imparts to readers whether you are selling the book to bookstores, co-ops or reading groups.

My book connects people over local foods. People get to know the otherwise annomyous grower. The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook is perfect in towns and cities where my farmer profiles feature familiar community faces and names. In Corvallis those farms include--Denison Farms, Gathering Together Farm, Grateful Harvest and Wilt Farms.

Think about where your book is simply perfect. Go there and connect with booksellers.

Farther south, at the Medford farmers' market I bought an irresistible sweet treat from Pennington Farms -- a rhubarb-raspberry turnover. Bright, blond and tan, Cathy Pennington mentioned that she'd contacted Bellewood Acres (another farm in my book) and Dorie Belisle shared how they had painted the word Apples on top of their barn. Oregon farmers connecting with Washington farmers is an aspect of my book that I hadn't considered. I'm thrilled that my book is bridging these Northwest food communities.

Look for new and interesting insights about your book. Use new insights and stories to enhance book signing events or blogs.

Another Rogue Vally farmer, Suzy Fry from the Fry Family Farm, shared how she'd met JoanE from Rent's Due Ranch in Stanwood. (Rent's Due is the other farm in the farm profile with the Fry Family Farm in The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.) I also stopped by Whistling Duck Farm and said hello to Mary Allionis before stopping at Dunbar Farms and sampling a cookie made with Dunbar Farms freshly ground wheat. The flour intrigued me since I'd spend many hours baking with Nash's flour and discovered a new love for organic wheat.

Dunbar Farms isn't in my book, but after talking about growing and grinding wheat and learning about the Rogue Valley Farm-to-School program Corinne said, "You ought to come out and see the farm; see where the kids plant vegetables; and we even have a kitchen where they learn to cook what they grow." I didn't need any more urging, I headed out to the farm where I talked to 4th generation farmer David Mostue and I learned about this farm's long history, growing beans and grains on the farm and the story of the ever increasing vineyards in Rogue Valley. Then I talked to Corinne about the Farm-to-School learning program.

Marketing took a back seat to learning about a new farm. But this unplanned element of impulsiveness and striking up new friendships is my idea of a fun vacation.

Don't take book marketing so seriously that you miss inspiration for new writing projects.

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